If you think about it, there are certain things that will forever go hand-and-hand. Chicken noodle soup and being sick, a margarita and being on the beach, or giving a dog a bath and ending up wetter than the dog. You get the point. For me, listening to music and riding is high on the list.
Yesterday, the world learned that Tom Petty had passed away. While some may not have been a fan of his style of classic rock, Petty was always a favorite of mine. This especially rang true while going on any sort of drive. After I got my motorcycle license, I bought a SENA 10s for my helmet and that completely changed my riding experience. I could now take my music on the rode with me and truely dive into the emotion that a good ride brings out. While I can name a wide range of artists that I turn to, Petty’s range of amazing tracks always came back.
While this year saw the loss of other artists that I held in high regard, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington mainly, losing Petty hit me differently. I remember seeing him in concert in 2010 at the Wachovia Center with Buddy Guy as his opener. That show may still be the best concert experience of my life. Listening to his discography also was one of my first steps into the world of classic rock. From there, I learned about other greats like The Eagles, Skynyrd, and even Fleetwood Mac to a certain extent. If it were not for listening to his music, I don’t know if I would have found the rest of these artists as quickly. His impact on my music taste is greater than I ever realized.
So as I left work at 5:30PM, the sky was clear and the sun was at a perfect height in the sky to bathe my entire ride home. The temperature was around 70 degrees and there was a slight breeze rumbling over my helmet. I dive into hyperbole because the weather was both perfect, and yet somehow sorrowful. The emotions around me were even greater due to the shooting in Las Vegas still on the forefront on my mind. As I went to put Petty’s music on in memory of his loss, I originally wanted to select “Last Dance With Mary Jane” since it’s in my top-three favorites of his. However, I paused before selecting it.
For some reason, I just hit shuffle. Normally this is a risky proposition since if the wrong song was selected, the mood would not feel right. Luckily, the perfect song I didn’t even think of came on. The track is called “Saving Grace” and I honestly cannot remember the last time I listened to it. It was off one of his solo albums Highway Companion and while his classic hits are what we all think of, his solo work is still fantastic. Any who, as the track starts, I knew I had to leave it on and began my 10 minute ride home. It is an odd feeling when your eye’s begin to water and you cannot figure out why. It is not like I personally knew him, or was clinically obsessed with Petty, I just had a connection to his music. The entire feeling of that song lends itself to this type of slow cruise through the sunset that I was currently on. I felt like I was in a scene from a music video where the song trails off as my exhaust note rumbles down the sun-painted backroad home. It struck me all at once, and a tear almost trickled behind my visor.
I don’t know if the weight of that moment would have struck me if I was listening to that track in the office or driving my car. I remember a similar feeling when I was riding after getting my current job. I was riding around, happy as a clam, listening to Marshmello. I know I just went from a classic rock great to an EDM artist but roll with me. Marsh’s tracks always make me feel happy and get me pumped up, hence why he always pops up on my workout playlist. Well I was riding around Tabernacle, in the farmland, elated to finally have a good job, listening to my happy music. That experience is still clearly visible in my memory. So here I am, on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, feeling that same connection riding into the great wide open. Motorcycles and music, they really are a perfect match.
RIP Tom Petty, you will be greatly missed.